May 062024
john oates long monday

Shortly after John Oates released his 2018 solo record Arkansas, my then three-year-old daughter became strangely obsessed with the album. So much so that everyone in our house memorized every track. At one point, I tried to introduce her to the music that Oates recorded with “his friend Daryl,” but it was not to be. “No” my daughter would say, “Just John Oates!” And that’s been my nickname for Oates ever since.

The moniker seems especially appropriate in 2024 given that Hall and Oates are in the midst of a very public legal battle and seem unlikely to set foot on stage together again. Yet, they’ve both soldiered on. Hall is touring this summer with Elvis Costello, and Oates is due to release a new solo album Reunion on May 17. The title apparently has nothing to do with his clashes with his long-time partner, Oates has said. “The fact that I’m moving on from my Hall & Oates experience, I’m basically reuniting with myself,” he recently told the Associated Press. “I’m trying to reunite with the essential part of who I am, not only as a man but a musician.”

Oates has been putting out solo albums on a regular basis for more than two decades, starting with 2002’s Phunk Shui. His solo material is more country/Americana-focused than the pop and blue-eyed soul that made him a household name.

Oates continues on this path with his new album’s first single, a cover of John Prine’s “Long Monday.” First released in 2005, Prine’s song is a wistful ballad about the bittersweet sadness of parting with one’s lover after a long weekend – or perhaps parting forever. Backed by mandolin virtuoso Sierra Hull, Oates leans heavily into bluegrass for the cover, with acoustic finger picking. Oates captures the emotional core of the song, singing with a mixture of joy and sadness.

As with the album title, it’s easy to look at the song as a metaphor for his split from Hall. But, it’s a strong enough track that it deserves to be enjoyed on its own. After all, it’s “Just John Oates” doing what he does best.

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